Spare: The Meaning Behind Prince Harry's Book Title

The title of Prince Harry's memoir references a famous phrase about the lesser status of younger royal children, it has been revealed.

Publisher Penguin Random House announced on Thursday that the highly anticipated book would be called Spare. It will be released on January 10, 2023.

A press release from the company read: "Spare takes readers immediately back to one of the most searing images of the 20th century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother's coffin as the world watched in sorrow—and horror. As Diana, Princess of Wales was laid to rest, billions wondered what the princes must be thinking and feeling—and how their lives would play out from that point on.

"For Harry, this is his story at last."

Prince Harry Memoir 'Spare' Meaning
The book jacket for "Spare" (L) and Harry (R) with his brother William at the funeral of their mother Diana on September 6, 1997. The prince's memoir will be "raw" and "unflinching," according to its publisher. Ramona Rosales/Penguin Random House/Anwar Hussein/Getty Images

The press release does not mention the thinking behind the book's title, but it references a well-known phrase about royal children—"the heir and the spare."

This highlights the distinction between the heir, the eldest child destined to inherit their parent's wealth, power and position, and their younger siblings—"spares" who will only come to prominence if the heir dies.

In the U.K., when Charles married Diana, the phrase "heir and a spare" was often seen in royal reporting and it was considered the couple's duty to ensure the survival of the royal bloodline by producing two healthy children.

Their heir, Prince William, was born in 1982. Harry was born in 1984.

Throughout history, royal spares have often been overlooked or cast as "bad apples," in contrast to the dutiful and wise heir. Princess Margaret, younger sister of Queen Elizabeth II, was a famous example in the 20th century.

Harry was aware of his place in the pecking order from a young age, according to the biography Finding Freedom. Its authors, Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, also recounted how Diana would try to mitigate this.

"By the age of four, he was aware of their destinies as 'heir and spare,'" they wrote. "Knowing this, heir mother regularly empheasized how she loved her sons equally. Equality was a constant theme in their family unit, because outside of it, that was not the case."

Earlier this month, the status of younger princes was highlighted when the queen of Denmark decided that the children of her second son, Prince Joachim, would be stripped of their royal titles.

Queen Margrethe II said in a statement: "Holding a royal title involves a number of commitments and duties that, in the future, will lie with fewer members of the royal family. This adjustment, which I view as a necessary future-proofing of the monarchy, I want to take in my own time."

Joachim and his children told Danish reporters they were "very sad" and "confused" at the decision. The four children of Joachim's older brother, Crown Prince Frederik, are retaining their titles.

Margrethe later issued a public apology to her younger son, but said the change would go ahead.

The titles held by Harry's own children are currently the subject of speculation. Since the accession of King Charles III, they have the right to be styled as prince and princess under the George V convention. However, Buckingham Palace has yet to announce whether Archie and Lilibet will be given those titles.

Prince Harry Memoir Title 'Spare'
Prince Harry, photographed on January 16, 2020. His memoir will be released on January 10, 2023. Samir Hussein/WireImage

Penguin Random House has described Spare as insightful and moving. "With its raw, unflinching honesty, Spare is a landmark publication full of insight, revelation, self-examination and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief."

When the project was announced in July 2021, Harry said he was "excited" to publish his own story in his own words.

"I'm writing this not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become," he said.

"I've worn many hats over the years, both literally and figuratively, and my hope is that in telling my story—the highs and lows, the mistakes, the lessons learned—I can help show that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think. I'm deeply grateful for the opportunity to share what I've learned over the course of my life so far and excited for people to read a firsthand account of my life that's accurate and wholly truthful."

On Thursday, the memoir's publisher also revealed that the prince is donating part of the book's proceeds to charity, including Sentebale, an HIV/AIDS organization founded with Prince Seeiso of Lesotho to honor both their mothers.

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